- Paperback: 348 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (April 24, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616145897
- ISBN-13: 978-1616145897
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,097,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Destination Mars: New Explorations of the Red Planet
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"Destination Mars brings to life an extraordinary part of human exploration—the preliminary reconnaissance of the planet of dreams over the last fifty years. Enlivened by interviews with many of the participants, Destination Mars makes you feel as if you are exploring the planet with them."
-Steven J. Dick, Former NASA chief historian
"The enigmatic Red Planet does not easily give up its secrets. Yet Destination Mars takes the reader on a first-class journey to this new world, one that continues to be a magnet for inquisitive scientists and space engineers. This is a superb, fact-filled, up-to-date book that portrays the legacy of spacecraft and personalities—from cheerleaders to unsung heroes—that have opened up the terra incognito that is Mars to extraordinary exploration."
-Leonard David, Space Insider columnist, SPACE.com
"Mars has long held a special fascination for Americans, perhaps it might even be a planet that harbors life. Rod Pyle has written a fine account of this fascination, outlining the history of the robotic space probes sent to the Red Planet and the knowledge gained through these expeditions."
-Roger D. Launius, Senior curator, Division of Space History, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
"[A]n optimistic, enthusiastic survey of humanity’s ongoing duel of wits with our neighbor planet. Interviews with some of the people involved in Mars missions show the thread of curiosity and wonder connecting the Mars exploration projects of the last fifty years. Getting to Mars has been really difficult, but for Rod Pyle the problems just make it more interesting and worthwhile."
-Stephen Fentress, Director, Strasenburgh Planetarium, Rochester Museum & Science Center
About the Author
Rod Pyle is the author of the widely praised books Destination Moon and Missions to the Moon, as well as the popular audiobook In Their Own Words: The Space Race. He has written and produced numerous documentaries for the History Channel and Discovery Communications, including the acclaimed Modern Marvels: Apollo 11 and Mars: 100 Years of Discovery. Pyle has been an assistant professor at the University of La Verne, California, and frequently lectures at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
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The pinnacle of Mars exploration, Curiosity, is just another iteration in an ongoing exploration effort that has tested human ingenuity for generations and pushed engineering to new limits. As the spotlight shines on Curiosity, it is a humbling and enlightening exercise to review the perilous road that led us here. I can't think of a more timely and enlightening reminder of that long and proud lineage than Rod Pyle's Destination Mars: New Explorations of the Red Planet.
Pyle's book is mostly a thorough and enthralling retelling of the remarkable history of human exploration of the red planet, from the '60s to the present. A few editorial mishaps notwithstanding, Destination Mars is a remarkable achievement, and a truly fascinating read.
The book wastes no time; it hooks you from the start with an account of the landing and awakening of the first Martians, the Viking 1 and 2. The second chapter, "Mars 101," presents a dense primer on what we know about the planet, and the third takes a look back at how Mars has been seen and imagined through the ages, from Babylon's mythology to Bradbury's stories. From Chapter 4 and continuing through the following 25 chapters, the book follows a simple yet very effective one-two structure, discussing a specific mission to Mars in one chapter and then presenting the profile of an individual involved with that mission in the next. This quasi-parallel exposition of the miraculous engineering and the brilliant engineers that created it, of the fascinating science and the visionary scientists behind it, works like a charm.
We learn first about the Mariner missions that NASA launched between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s, and then more about the next generation of missions, the Vikings. Pyle then takes us through the twenty years of stagnation in Mars exploration, NASA's return to Mars with the Mars Global Surveyor in the early `90s, and the first rover, Sojourner, in the late '90s. Finally, Pyle reviews the more sophisticated missions of the new millennium, including orbiters such as the Mars Express, the Mars Odyssey, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; a polar, lander, the Mars Phoenix; and of course the rovers Spirit and Opportunity, both of which delivered beyond expectations.
Destination Mars concludes with a discussion of the technical details of the Mars Science Laboratory, whose rover, Curiosity, has lately generated so much hype. Subsequent chapters discuss how new missions to Mars are being tested in inhospitable environments on Earth and speculate on how a future manned exploration of Mars may look.
With about 300 pages of Martian soup for the geeky soul, this book is a real treat, and is definitely on my short list for gifts for some of my friends. I cannot imagine any of my MIT colleagues who would not be captivated by the tenacity of the engineers and scientists (some of them MITers themselves) and the ingenuity of the missions that have been sent to Mars so far.